WCA Audio Recording (6)

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The Atos report published 15 months ago states
• “There is increasing demand for recording of assessments and currently there is no easy process to offer this and we estimate AH receives around 1-2 requests / day. Therefore is a need to make recordings more readily available on request.”

• “The results of the pilot indicate that there are a significant proportion of clients who would welcome the opportunity to have their assessment recorded”

•“Our recommendation would be that recording should be become routine as it is in a call centre or for example – NHS direct”.

Q1: I would like to see
• the discussion record(s) within DWP that resulted in it choosing to ignore this recommendation
• who in DWP sanctioned it and
• the subsequent communication to Atos that this was to be the case.

In any trial of this nature, statistical rigour and transparency are paramount if the results are to have any meaning.

Q2: What RECORDED INFORMATION was produced to prove that:
• There was no bias in the trial sample of 500 claimants selected?
• There was no bias in the phraseology of the “invitation” to join the trail that influenced the responses received?
• The sample of reports that underwent IQAS within the trial was representative and that the conclusions you have drawn are sound? What was the size of this sample?

The only true measure of success is through the impact on right-first-time decision making, which DWP neglected to establish within the trial and only has the IQAS findings.

Q3: Of the assessments subject to IQAS, was each one followed though decision making, reconsideration and appeal to ensure that the HCPs’ recommendations were correct?

In VTR 3701-2609 you have stated that the universal roll-out would not be cost effective:

Q4: I would like to see the facts and figures on which this statement is based, including the full range of factors considered as potential benefits and the methodology used to value them in the overall cost-benefit equation.
Claimants will not of course consider requesting a facility they do not know exists.

Q5: In its ongoing tracking, how is DWP ensuring that it gains a true and comprehensive picture of demand, by making ALL claimants aware of the facility in advance? Clearly, if the exercise is NOT announced and launched, levels of real demand could be hugely understated.

It is now 15 months since the trial was concluded during which some progress must have been made.

Q6: What new evaluation criteria have been agreed to date to judge the success (or otherwise) of the current approach? These may not be complete and may require ongoing development, but some progress must have been made by now.

It is not illegal for a claimant to make their own recording of a WCA overtly or covertly, however DWP has decided not to allow the former and abandon the WCA if the latter comes to light during the WCA, which represents a huge waste of time and money for all concerned.

Q7: What steps has DWP taken to advise claimants in advance that this is the case to avoid the waste of time & money?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'WCA Audio Recording (6)'.

20 days and no feedback whatsoever.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'WCA Audio Recording (6)'.

3 months since the original request, 2 months since the IRR and not a word.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

It is unfortunate that (amongst the other specious nonsense the DWP has had the gall to produce to JN in the response here) the last few paragraphs are partly obscured by some irrelevant text over–writing the original.

Nevertheless, I am tolerably satisfied that the penultimate paragraph contains this sentence:-

"the claimant has a responsibility to advise the HCP either during the appointment scheduling process or before the Assessment commences that they intend to record an assessment."

Tripe. There is no such legal 'responsibility', and covert recording is being used to nail unprofessional medical behaviour on an increasing basis. See, e.g. post #535 (today) in this thread;-
http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/for...

John Slater left an annotation ()

Sadly the DWP is also being completely dishonest about the recording pilot data. There is one very obvious error relates to those people that requested a copy of their recording. The Harrington Recording Pilot Report stated that 1.7% of people requested a copy while the DWP is regularly reporting that this was less than 1%. This is a small error but shows a clear intent to deceive.

The major fraud relates to the claims regarding the people that agreed to a recording and those that actually took part on the day. Of the 344 people that agreed to take part 78 did not attend a WCA (no doubt for perfectly valid reasons). A further 11 people were prevented from having a recording due to technical or HCP issues. The DWP decided to take those 89 people and add them to the group that declined to take part in the first place. We have to remember that the size of the pilot (500 people) was already too small to be statistically significant. If the DWP then completely skews the data by moving 78 people from ‘agreed to take part’ to ‘declined’ then what little validity the pilot had simply vanishes.

If we adjust for the 89 people that did not attend / could not take part the numbers look very different:

62% of the whole sample group consented to take part in the recording.

Of those that agreed to take part and attended for a WCA 90% proceeded with recording their WCA

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'WCA Audio Recording (6)'.

I have already raised two IRRs based on the long, unexplained delay with this request and although the response contains the standard apology, it gives no indication that it has substantially failed the 20 day rule. This in itself with the total absence of due process since September justifies referral to the ICO. This 3rd IRR is about the eventual content of response 3691.

1) Your response to Q1 makes various claims about the conclusions on the subject, but it does NOT address the very clear request. I do not accept that there is no recorded information to substantiate what you have said – there must be some form of rejoinder to the Atos report and probably a subsequent (written) dialogue. Particularly with an outsourced contract, neither party would wish for any ambiguity over who said what when. For the same reason there would of course be a written record of finally what DWP wanted Atos to do. FoI is not limited to published reports.

Furthermore, none of the Harrington reports support the final DWP position as you suggest, so please provide the source of what you claim.

The “consultation” you say took place with the Harrington Project Board would again be supported by some record if only a series of file notes. Professor Harrington is a professional who would have insisted on nothing less.

Please clarify what you mean by a “final decision”. Call them interim decisions if you like, but you have announced a series of changes/conditions to the original promise Minister Grayling announced in the HoC. These decisions would not have been taken without discussion and sign off and I would like to see the records and authorisation. This is historical information that has already been implemented so cannot be subject to a section 35/6 excemption.

2) Although I can confidently predict the outcome, I would ask you to reconsider the FOI exemption you have cited here. You have been attempting to use section 35/36 exemptions since the trial was completed 18 months ago and it is now wearing just a bit thin – how much longer would a decent management team need?.

Although you claim still to be working on “policy”, it has not stopped you changing it as you see fit to make the process for claimants as hard as possible – from available for anyone who asks to only if Atos is so inclined, plus the smoke screen around self-recording and the attempt to deny basic rights. It is impossible to believe that you do not yet have a policy and do not know where you are heading – the only issue is that it is embarrassing and/or unpalatable, neither of which are legitimate excuses for non-disclosure.

3) No response needed, but it is notable that you draw a clear distinction between right-first-time decision making and the quality of assessments when one would hope that the only real measure of quality was through precisely this parameter. The WCA is a means to an end, not an end in itself. You are in fact suggesting that WCA quality is fine, in which case all of the errors corrected at Tribunal must be exclusively due to poor decision making as the key piece of information on which decision are based is perfectly sound. We all know this is not true.

4) As regards Q2, amazing that the main influence on trial results was not considered important enough to be examined. This has not however stopped you quoting trial results as if they are impartial, statistically valid and beyond debate, when clearly they are none of these things. No response required.

5) For Q3, it is staggering that after all this time you have made no attempt to validate the internal Atos QA process, so using it in this context is totally meaningless. If the QA process was a reliable measure of WCA standards, there would be nowhere near as many appeals and decisions overturned.

6) For Q4, my request stems directly from the statement you made and is looking for substantiation. Please therefore clarify whether the detailed cost-effectiveness assessment is available or not (as required by FOI legislation) and if it is, that you are simply refusing to disclose it under section 35/6. If you are adamant that it is not good value, you will of course have some figures that prove the assertion – without them, it is pure speculation.

7) For Q5 & Q6, I am not asking for a preview of the decisions you might make, I am asking about what information you will gather to make them. FoI requires you to at least confirm if this information exists or not. Clearly if the data gathered is inadequate, the chances of the best decision being made are slim. Again after 18 months it is absurd to suggest there has been no progress – or is it and this is the real reason for regularly citing section 35/6 exemptions.

8) For Q7, as regards the legal action you say could be taken, who within DWP/Atos would initiate it?

You are overstating the position here in an attempt to frighten claimants away from self-recording.

Published legal advice to HCPs paints a very different picture. For example:

• “Dentists are warned that the law offers little or no protection from patients covertly recording consultations. Patients are within their rights to record consultations and could use the information obtained to challenge their dentist’s actions.”

• “A patient who makes a secret audio recording of a consultation with a clinician is unlikely to be breaking any privacy or data protection laws. The prevailing perception is that such an act is bound to be unlawful and that clinical professionals can rightfully object, but the legal position is quite different.”

• “The fact that the patient did not seek the clinician’s consent to the audio recording will not amount to a breach of data protection law. So could clinicians rely on privacy laws instead? Only if the recorded information relates to the clinician’s personal and family life and affairs and such information is disclosed without justification. This is highly unlikely in the scenario of a patient audio recording a consultation, as the conversation will relate solely to the patient. The recording might be intrusive and could even be perceived as an act of surveillance, but it is not unlawful under privacy laws.”

and there are very many more in a similar vein

As I am sure you are aware from existing TS decisions that for DWP to take actions against claimants based on policy it has not advised specifically in advance is not acceptable and general publication on a huge website is in itself inadequate.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wc...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

show quoted sections

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

show quoted sections

William Hammonds left an annotation ()

Use whatever you like to make a record of your audible presentation. Since when did atos acquire the authority to decide how you make a record.
Atos HCP can misrepresent a client in all wca reports.
The only way to put a stop to this is to have an audio recording made of the wca.
Atos will offer to supply the audio equipment. When you arrive at your wca they will ask you to sign a waiver which states that you will not use the recording for any other purpose than to assist your claim. After all, the recording will belong to them and they can decide what a copy can be used for.
If you have a wca booked you can take your own recording equipment as long as you give formal notice that you intend to record.It could go like this "I hereby give formal notice of intent to make audio recording of my audible presentation during wca on (date) at (address). This recording will include audio recording of any other person attending wca and will be used for any porpose including but not limited to private prosecutions of hcp"
You do not need permission to give notice. Just push it in front of the hcp, and go ahead and record with whatever you feel would be admissible in court.
This will make the recording yours, and you can use it to prosecute the HCP privately. The Hcp can not hide behind the corporation when accused of misrepresentation which has caused loss or harm.
Small claims courts were designed to simplify claims, and I can assure you that you will be surprised at how easy it can be to prosecute. One step above small claims courts are fast track courts. These courts are also a breeze. Try visiting any of these courts and ask an official how to make a claim, they will gladly help you as it is in their interest to have the business.

David Sorwold left an annotation ()

Thank you William for making the annotation.
You have given me hope.